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Listicle Writing: A How-to Guide

A guide on listicle writing.

In today’s fast-paced society, we want our information now. Additionally, we want it in small chunks that are easy to read. That’s when a listicle comes into play. Even if you think you don’t know what a listicle is, you’ve likely encountered plenty of them online and not realized it. Learn more about what a listicle is, when they perform best for content, and how to create great listicle writing.

What Is a Listicle?

Image via Flickr by wuestenigel

If you’ve spent any amount of time browsing content online, you’ve likely read a few listicles. The term comes from combining the words “list” and “article.” A listicle is essentially an article in the form of a list. The format for a listicle is flexible. You could simply create a listicle that has a title, a few subheadings, and one picture under each subheading. On the other hand, you could also create a listicle that has plenty of extra detail under each subheading to make a complicated topic easier to understand.

Why Are Listicles Popular?

Along with their flexibility, listicles are popular for many reasons. They’re ideal for almost any subject. You can use them to sell a product, explain a topic, offer an opinion, give advice, and more. Additionally, you know what to expect with a listicle. You get a title that tells you what you’re going to read, and you get digestible chunks of information that explain the topic.

Since this information is broken down under subheadings, you can easily scan for the important parts. You also know how much reading you have left. If you have to put it down, it’s easy to come back later and pick up where you left off.

Even science agrees that our brains like listicles. As developmental molecular biologist Dr. John Medina explains, our brains prefer pictures over text. Additionally, reading large blocks of text is an intense task for our brains. However, if your brain sees bite-size content, it instantly recognizes that the experience is limited, and it’s able to better understand and process the information.

What Type of Content Is Good for a Listicle?

While you can use a listicle for nearly any subject, certain content is better than others for the format. People are always looking for a solution to a problem they have. How-to listicles are incredibly popular because they break down the solution into steps that are easy to follow and provide an achievable goal. The following are example titles of how-to listicles:

  • How to Plant a Vegetable Garden That Actually Produces
  • 7 Steps to Declutter Your Bedroom in One Weekend
  • 10 Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill

As you can see, a how-to listicle doesn’t always have to have the words “how to” in the title. However, the message on how to do something is still there.

Additionally, content that deals with the best, top, or most popular of a certain topic also does great as a listicle. Examples of these titles include:

  • Top 7 Early Warning Signs of Heart Disease That People Miss
  • 5 Most Popular Toys This Holiday Season
  • The 10 Best Restaurants in New York City

This type of content is good for a listicle because it has a title that immediately grabs your attention. Therefore, you want to make sure the information you provide lives up to what the title is offering.

How to Write a Listicle

Now that you understand why listicles are popular, it’s time to start creating your own. However, you can’t simply slap some content together and think you have a decent listicle. Believe it or not, some actual science behind good listicle writing exists. Once you know what you want to write about, putting together a listicle involves five steps:

  • Pick a unique angle.
  • Create your headline.
  • Stick to the point.
  • Add accompanying material.
  • Craft a strong conclusion.

Pick a Specific Angle

Plenty of listicles discuss identical topics. To get your content noticed, you need to come up with a specific angle for your listicle. For example, if you search the top 10 songs of all time, you’ll get an overwhelming number of results. However, you can put a distinct spin on this topic by creating an article that lists the top 10 rock songs for a road trip.

Create Your Headline

A powerful headline is important because it will make people want to click on your listicle. When you’re creating your title, consider using a number. Research shows that numbers — especially odd numbers — add authenticity, are more decisive, and are more memorable. Additionally, you want to keep in mind that you want to stay away from clickbait titles. In general, a clickbait title promises something unrealistic that the content doesn’t deliver.

Stick to the Point

The idea behind a listicle is to provide the information without any fluff. Therefore, you want to make sure you don’t drag out your article by adding irrelevant items. One way to achieve this effect is to re-read your article before you publish it and make sure every subheading relates directly back to your title.

Select Accompanying Material

Even though lists are easier to read than large blocks of text, they can still get rather dull without some accompanying material. That’s why you should include relevant interactive media in your listicle. Options can include infographics, animated videos, live action videos, images, or illustrations.

Craft a Strong Conclusion

The value of the listicle is in the list itself, but you shouldn’t skip the conclusion either. Instead, consider one of the following ideas to wrap up everything and create a strong conclusion for your listicle:

  • Suggest a way to use what you’ve written about.
  • Offer a call to action.
  • Tie everything back to your initial argument.

Even though many people think listicles are easy to create, you have certain aspects you need to keep in mind if you want to produce an effective listicle. Now that you understand how to write a listicle, you can start putting together content that performs well.

About the author

Kristen McCalla